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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Record Keeping: How long must records be retained for: Corporation tax

Companies and unincorporated associations that may be required to make a company tax return must retain their records and supporting documents, see CH11200, until the latest of

  1. the sixth anniversary of the end of the accounting period. For example the records for the accounting period ended 31 March 2010 must be kept until 31 March 2016
  2. the completion of an enquiry into the matters to which the records relate. For example, if in the case above your enquiry into the return was completed on 14 October 2017 the records must be kept until at least that date, and
  3. the day on which the enquiry window for the return closes. The date the enquiry window closes depends upon the accounting period and whether or not the company is a singleton company or a member of a small group. You will find full details in the COTAX Manual, see last date for enquiry at COM71010.

Exceptionally, we may give a company a notice to make a return for an accounting period after the date in 1 above has passed. The company must keep any records that it still has at that time until the later of the dates in 2 or 3 above.

A VAT registered company may be allowed to keep certain records for VAT purposes for a shorter period than those described above. CH15000 onwards describes how long VAT records should be retained for.

If the records relate to the acquisition or improvement of a capital asset, see CH14650.

We can charge a penalty if the company fails to keep or retain records, see EM4650.

Companies Act 2006

Section 388 Companies Act 2006 contains its own period for which a company’s accounting records, see CH11400, must be retained. A public limited company (plc) must retain its accounting records for 6 years from the date they are made, whilst a private company (not a plc) must retain its accounting records for 3 years from the date they are made. For a private limited company, tax law requires records to be kept for a longer period so the only records they can destroy at the 3 year point are ones that it does not need for the purposes of completing a company tax return.


Companies Act 2006/S388